Accessibility links

Breaking News

Student Union

Students Across US Take On COVID Disinformation

FILE - People gather for an anti-vaccine rally, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Central Park, New York City, July 24, 2021.
FILE - People gather for an anti-vaccine rally, amid the coronavirus pandemic, in Central Park, New York City, July 24, 2021.

A student organization is trying to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and pandemic on American campuses through social media.

COVID Campus Coalition’s mission is to dispel “misconceptions surrounding COVID vaccines by providing students with weekly digestible scientific summaries through a plethora of virtual and in-person platforms,” according to its website.

“Look at the comments of an Instagram post about the vaccine and you have people spouting myths and conspiracies about the virus,” said sophomore James Lifton of Edinburgh, Scotland, a political science major, who has teamed up with COVID Campus Coalition on his campus, Texas A&M (TAMU).

Social media has been rife with inaccurate and misinformed opinions at the same time more than 150 studies have been retracted about COVID, leading some people to feel confused or alienated about what information is real and true, and what is fabricated or political.

On its website and social media accounts, COVID Campus Coalition pushes accurate information to its audience from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and scientific articles by medical professionals released through New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard Medicine, University of Chicago Medicine and MedRxiv.

There are 23 Campus Coalition chapters across the United States, including Rutgers University in New Jersey, University of Florida, University of Southern California and Cornell University in New York.

Student ambassadors like Lifton “reach out to the community through spreading statistics and posts about debunking common myths of the vaccine,” he said.

“I hope that this project can push more young people to get the vaccines to help assist with herd immunity, as well as start conversations about what the vaccine is for young people,” Lifton said.

Another wave of increased cases is making its way across the U.S., this time via the highly transmissible delta variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The Delta variant is to blame for 80% of all new COVID cases, the agency reported.

At TAMU, 10,772 people have been vaccinated through Student Health Services, only 15% of the student population.

“If this account can convince just one Aggie to get vaccinated, I would see it as a success,” said TAMU junior Sadie Hurst, referring to the nickname for the TAMU student body. “If it can convince one Aggie to get vaccinated, what’s to stop it from convincing hundreds?”

FILE - Masked students walk to a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State University campus in Jackson, Mississippi., July 27, 2021.
FILE - Masked students walk to a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State University campus in Jackson, Mississippi., July 27, 2021.

Approximately 54.9% of individuals aged 18-24 have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine in the United States, while 44.6% of individuals of the same age have been fully vaccinated, according to Mayo Clinic’s vaccine tracker as of August 9. Among 25- to 39-year-olds, 58.7% have received at least one dose, while 49.2% have been fully vaccinated.

“There is an ideological divide on my campus,” Lifton said. “Having people be on board with getting the vaccine will be difficult. I believe this is the right move in order to ensure that cases at college do not continue rising as we go back in person. It will be difficult but I believe that it is possible.”

Olivia Nicholson is a student on the other side of the divide. The freshman at Belmont University in Nashville said she has chosen not to be inoculated.

“It just doesn’t seem that effective,” Nicholson said. “There is no guarantee that if you receive the vaccine you will not contract COVID. I feel like if I still have to wear a mask — and there is no guarantee that I will not contract COVID — then I won’t put something in my body without knowing exactly what effect it could have on me.”

According to the CDC, “COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19, especially severe illness and death. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.”

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic,” it states on its website.

Those activities include returning to college campuses. A year and a half into the pandemic that is believed to have spread from China in late 2019, students have endured more than a year of campus shut down, prolonged and insufficient online learning, missed ceremonies, and a lack of social interaction with peers and professors.

Most recently, they have faced the new variant and vaccine requirements, according to the CDC. Many students fear classes will continue online rather than in person, and campus activities will be delayed again.

“With lectures and labs being almost completely online, I do not know a single student who didn’t feel just completely drained by the end of the school year,” Hurst said.

“Severe burnout seemed to be rampant on campus by midterms. My grades plummeted, my friends' grades plummeted, and even my classmates who had good semester GPAs would tell you they did not feel like they learned anything during the year. It is exhausting to be a student during COVID,” she said.

In addition to the COVID Campus Coalition, other entities offer scientific resources and information, including the World Health Organization, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, and the Davidson College COVID-19 Testing Dashboard on COVID facts and misinformation.

See all News Updates of the Day

Some colleges are making digital literacy classes mandatory

FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.
FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.

A 2019 study by Stanford found that most college students can’t tell the difference between real and fake news articles. Amid rampant online disinformation, and the threat of AI-generated images, some schools are making students learn “digital literacy” to graduate.

Lauren Coffeey reports for Inside Higher Ed. (March 2024)

With federal student aid delays, students aren’t sure what college will cost 

File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.
File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid form (FAFSA) experienced serious glitches and delays this year.

Now, many students have been admitted to college, but don’t know how much money they’ll need to attend.

Read the story from Susan Svrluga and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post. (March 2024)

Senator draws attention to universities that haven’t returned remains

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.

More than 70 U.S. universities continue to hold human remains taken from Native American burial sites, although those remains were supposed to be returned 30 years ago.

Jennifer Bendery writes in Huffington Post that one senator has been using his position in an attempt to shame universities into returning remains and artifacts. (April 2024)

COVID forced one international student to go hungry

FILE - Masked students walk to the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State University campus in Jackson, Miss., July 27, 2021.
FILE - Masked students walk to the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State University campus in Jackson, Miss., July 27, 2021.

When Samantha (not her real name) enrolled in community college in the U.S., her family at home in South Africa scrimped and saved to support her.

But the COVID-19 pandemic hurt the family’s finances, and at one point Samantha had four on-campus jobs just to make ends meet. Many in the U.S. believe international students are wealthy sources of funding for universities, but stories like Samantha’s suggest otherwise.

Andrea Gutierrez reports for The World. (March 2024)

Tips for paying for a STEM degree as an international student

FILE - FILE - A visitor to the 21st China Beijing International High-tech Expo looks at a computer chip through the microscope displayed by the Tsinghua Unigroup project in Beijing, on May 17, 2018.
FILE - FILE - A visitor to the 21st China Beijing International High-tech Expo looks at a computer chip through the microscope displayed by the Tsinghua Unigroup project in Beijing, on May 17, 2018.

For US News & World Report, Melanie Lockert describes how to calculate the cost of a STEM degree, and where to find funding. (March 2024)

Load more

XS
SM
MD
LG